My Response to the Article: ‘Why a Christian Woman’s Place is Outside the Home’.

my response to the Atlantic article

(Original Caption) Photo of a woman filling a glass of milk from a pitcher on an already set table. The kitchen has the look of a modern 1950s design. Circa 1950s. (Photo by �� Bettmann/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

So this week I read an article written in the Atlantic titled ‘Why a Christian Woman’s Place is Outside the Home.’ The article (by Jonathon Merritt) was based on a book by Katelyn Beaty. Ms Beaty’s first book ‘A Woman’s Place: A Christian Vision for Your Calling in the Office, the Home and the World’ is due to be published this month, and I would very much like to read it. The article can be found here: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/07/the-conservative-christian-case-for-working-women/490025/?utm_source=atltw. Please have a read and let me know what you think.

Tim

Usually if I read something on the internet that offends me I just let it go and scroll on by. But this article really ruffled my feathers. And I don’t think I’m the only one. The 31 year old managing editor is proposing that God wants women to work outside the home. Apparently being a stay at home mother is a thing of the past. Beaty once believed staying at home with children is a mother’s “central call”; But her perspective has changed.

I’m wanting to tell wives and mothers that there is so much inherent goodness in the call to work and that we needn’t pit certain types of roles against each other,” Beaty said. “There are ways to be a devoted wife and mother and a devoted CEO. In the church, we need to make space for women who feel called to both at the same time.”

She’s 31, and doesn’t have children yet. I don’t wish to be insensitive about the fact that she is single and doesn’t yet have children, however it is hard to be familiar with the nuances of family life if you don’t have a family. I agree we don’t have to ‘pit certain types of roles against each other.’ And of course there is nothing wrong with being a mother and a CEO. In fact I am in awe of women who can do both, however (as many women who have done both have admitted), it is very difficult to manage both. Time is a very finite resource.

Ms Beaty argues: ‘We are all called to have influence—cultural influence outside of the private sphere of the home,” Beaty said. “It wouldn’t necessarily have to be a career track, but certainly all Christians, including all Christian women, are called to have cultural influence outside the home.” Well I can’t disagree with that. But how about these statements:

While Beaty said she wants to affirm the value of the labor of motherhood, she considers it a separate category. While she isn’t willing to call full-time mothering “sinful,” she encourages women with children to assess their talents and put those to use outside of their households.

So now full time mothering is ‘almost sinful’?

“When you talk about scales of influence or scales of societal influence, a woman who is staying at home with [her] children isn’t going to have as much influence on the direction of culture,” Beaty said. “We can talk about motherhood as a specific type of calling, but I’m not ready to professionalize it.”

I couldn’t disagree more. And I’m a bit baffled why The Atlantic would choose to publish something that is disrespectful to so many women. I don’t want to get into the tired old mummy wars. They really are a bit petty, and there are more important battles to be fought in the world. However, it’s telling that the author of this article doesn’t actually have children yet, and consequently, she may not really comprehend the enormity of the task of mothering. Guess what? All mothers work. Whether that is in the workforce or in the home – it’s all work. And not to mention the boatload of volunteer work that mothers contribute, whether they are employed outside the home or whether they work at home. Who do you think helps at preschools, runs the school fair, helps with the soup kitchen or runs the soccer club? Society would be lost without it’s army of volunteers.

One expects the devaluing of mothering and homemaking in the world. But now we have these disparaging voices in the church too? I’m not suggesting that women give up their jobs and tether themselves to the kitchen sink, however we have to be respectful of the different seasons that women are in. Furthermore, who says that how we influence society is a measure of our worth? God’s word says we are valuable just because of who we are, not because of what we do. We need to stop confusing who we are with what we do.

The author also raises the issue of women’s opportunities to serve in church and in society. This is a separate issue I believe. I agree that women should be treated as equals in ministry and should be wholly free to use their gifts and talents for God’s glory. I am sorry that the author has been overlooked in business meetings. This is not right. It’s not something that you would expect in 2016, but sadly many women still encounter discrimination in church and in the workplace. I agree that workplaces need to be far more family friendly for working mothers. And I also agree that not all women are cut out to be stay at home mothers or homeschoolers (God help me if I was ever called to homeschool!).

What I strongly disagree with is the idea that any work that is out there in the world is valuable and anything inside the home isn’t. If we really want to influence culture, this starts at home. Whether we work outside the home or at home, we need to prioritize our children, and this is going to look different for each family. For many of us, our greatest contribution to society may be who we raise. Much has been written recently about the crisis that we are seeing in children’s mental health. I would argue that disrespecting the important work that is done between the walls of one’s home really doesn’t help this matter. We need to value the home, for the health of the nation and the next generation depends on this.

‘The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.’

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5 Comments on “My Response to the Article: ‘Why a Christian Woman’s Place is Outside the Home’.

  1. Sarah, I agree that article left me feeling a bit ruffled too in many of the same ways. I also agree that there is way too much competition in relationships between women in differing circumstances. Our work is what we do to serve the Lord, whether it is paid or not. And no matter how small or inconsequential our work may seem, it is a part of something much bigger, the work of the body of Christ. In other words, we can value different work because it functions together toward a much bigger purpose the way different parts of the body work together. So in agreement with you a woman can work as a stay-at-home Mum, or work outside the home, or do a mixture of both. It is all her work.

    I like to pause for a moment and consider why a sister in Christ might choose to write on the subject she has. A single women in her 30’s will see things that a mother living the chaos of children may not, and vice versa. I wonder if she is speaking against an over-emphasis (in some church communities) of the ‘calling of motherhood’. Sometimes, in trying to value Mothers it can be interpreted as ok to spend these years wholly dedicated to family matters. Such insular family life does little for connecting to the church, singles and wider community, perhaps only relating to those in the same boat. Perhaps she tries to speak balance, suggesting that our call to relate to the community, and to serve (work) are not just for some seasons, but across the seasons of life. I do think the lives of singles in our midst are helped if we avoid settling for family life, instead pulling towards family life engaged in community. I disagree with it needing to be in paid employment, but I do think that there are many benefits if my daily work has a greater vision than my home and family.

    Sorry, a long response all to say. I agree with you, but perhaps can see what might motivate her writing.

  2. Hi Jess, well said. I agree that we need to try and identify with what might motivate someone to write what they write. There is perhaps an over emphasis on motherhood in many christian communities and it is vitally important to be inclusive of singles in Christian community. I can see how an over emphasis on family can be hurtful to single people. Also, we do need to have a vision for God’s kingdom that is as you say, beyond the family. And we need to remember that we are all on the same team 🙂

    • Perhaps ….but she made some judgmental and insulting comments to the Atlantic about stay at home mothers (or they were reported incorrectly) and she did not retract these comments. I am relieved to hear that her book is more balanced, and I look forward to reading it 🙂

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